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Foreign firm invests N200bn in Nigeria's mortgage sector

By The Citizen
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In what appeared a ma­jor boost to current drives by the federal and state governments to provide affordable hous­ing for Nigerians, Cantor Fitzgerald, a global invest­ment firm with expertise in asset-backed mortgage securities, yesterday en­tered into a pact with the Federal Government on $1 billion (about N200bn) in­vestment in the Nigerian mortgage sector.

This is just as the for­eign company also un­veiled plans to build 10,000 houses in Kaduna, Lagos, Enugu and Abuja within the next one year.

Giving assurances of its planned investment in the sector during the sign­ing of Memorandum of Understanding, MoU, with Prof Charles Inyangette, Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Mortgage Re­finance Company, NMRC, in a ceremony presided over by Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, in Abuja, the company's representative, Mr Jack Heffernan, Managing Di­rector of the firm's Debt Capital Markets Division, said arrangements had been made to commence actualisation of the multi-billion naira projects.

Heffernan described the NMRC as 'exactly the right business model to bring liquidity to Nige­ria's housing sector.'

In her remarks, Okonjo- Iweala said the entry of such an important player into Nigeria's mortgage sector was yet another signal that the present ad­ministration's vision on making affordable hous­ing available to Nigerians was earning the confi­dence of serious interna­tional investors.

The Minister said the prospects of achieving the core vision of the NMRC, which is to get young Ni­gerians convenient access to the means of owning their own homes, was be­ing achieved.

It would be recalled that the Federal Government had over the past year emphasised the strategic roles mortgage financ­ing could play in current drive towards bridging the housing deficit, estimated at about 17 million units in the country.

For instance, after not­ing that initial offer of 10,000 mortgage applica­tions was over-subscribed by 66,402 last year, the gov­ernment instructed the 17 Primary Mortgage In­stitutions, PMIs, and four Deposit Money Banks, DMBs, participating in the Nigerian Mortgage Refinancing Company (NMRC) housing pro­gramme to immediately commence processing of the over 66,000 applica­tions for the initially of­fered 10,000 mortgage ap­plications.

Okonjo-Iweala then directed the participat­ing MFIs and DMBs in the mortgage financing programme to share the 66,402 applications among themselves and prequalify those who met the criteria for accessing mortgage fa­cilities under the NMRC initiative and report back to government within eight weeks.

The Minister explained that the President was monitoring the implemen­tation process, just as she assured both mortgage in­stitutions and applicants that there was enough fund to finance the 66,000 applications. - National Mirror.